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Posts By: Corey Lewis
Last week, I asked you to think back to your formative years and your driving experiences therein. Many of you responded with tales of when your nervous fingers first gripped the wheel, and the happy experiences (sometimes dangerous if you’re Chris Tonn) you had in whatever vintage automobile you piloted that first time.
Now it’s time to talk about even further back. Knowing how old most of you are though, hopefully we can keep the stories of Conestoga wagons to a minimum today. What vehicle brought you home from the hospital, your first-ever actual ride in a car?
The last Rare Rides we brought you was really quite fantastic; a Toyota Town Ace with all the brown, diesel, 4WD, and multi-window things you could ever desire. Go check it out if you haven’t yet, as it will elevate your mood before today’s Rare Ride drags it right back down into the dirt.
As we’ve seen in some past editions of Rare Rides, things which are rare and “special” are not always good. And frankly, this Lincoln Blackwood Neiman Marcus Edition sucks.
High atop Mount Forbidden, the “other market’s” imported vehicle stands alone. It awaits that special day, some 25 years in the future, when the clouds will break and a descent into the mortal realm is possible.
And, after that special day comes, the vehicle gets a chance to stand out beyond all normal cars in any given American parking lot. It was never meant to be seen in this country, and yet someone with an entrepreneurial spirit made it possible. Come with me now, as we experience JDM van goodness.
Think back in time, and then back a little further. Think about when you were between maybe 14 and 18 years of age; when the Kool-Aid was sweet, the lawn darts were shiny, and your personal tablet was an Etch-A-Sketch. It was then you had your first formative driving experiences, whether it was with a driving instructor, or perhaps a relative who reluctantly handed you the keys to their Electra 225.
Today, it’s story time.
Last time on Rare Rides, we carried the racing [driver] and special edition themes to new heights, and featured a shockingly bad Jeff Gordon Monte Carlo special edition of which there were 24 copies made. Our ride today is still made by General Motors, and it’s still about racing, but it’s larger and even more rare. It’s also better, because it has an Oldsmobile logo on the front (albeit not the superior rocket one).
Oh yeah, and it’ll go 140 miles per hour.
Last week, I asked about vehicles which managed to turn up the Suck Dial between generations. The overwhelming response to this question compared to the opposite question asked a week earlier (about generational improvements) showed me how you all love being negative and trashing cars.
Thus, about six weeks ago, the genesis for today’s question was put into print. At that time I asked about your favorite automotive success story. But today we’re going to be much, much more negative.
Tell me your favorite automotive flop.
Our last couple of Rare Rides have been special limited edition vehicles. Last week we saw a GMC Spectre which, upon viewing, my friend declared, “That interior looks like an old Taco Bell!” Prior to that, a Nissan Desert Runner made all your Zima-beach-toting dreams come true, even with its sketchy and unclear history.
But today’s limited edition is more rare and more ugly than either of those two prior examples. It’s also newer, which makes its styling all the more egregious and offensive. By the year 2000, we were supposed to be beyond such gaudy nonsense. But the Monte Carlo SS Jeff Gordon Signature Series Commemorative Edition is as ridiculous as its name is long.
Cadillac announced its autonomous driving system Super Cruise is ready and will be available this fall. The system, designed to compete directly with Tesla’s Autopilot, will first appear on the Cadillac CT6.
It doesn’t sound like GM has pulled any punches. Super Cruise is touting some serious features.
On Monday, I asked you to tell me about vehicles that improved greatly compared to the prior generation; new models which were instantly and vastly superior to their predecessor.
Today, we’re going to flip it and talk about generational failures. Which vehicles were downgrades compared to the previous generation?
Decals, stripes, special paint, lettering, low production figures. These things are
important and relevant in a modern world sort of kitschy, but very enjoyable. Last week’s Nissan Hardbody Rare Ride had all those in spades, and this week’s truck turns it up to 11 (kind of). It’s definitely rare, but the appeal and pedigree are questionable.
Prepare your skepticism and critical thinking keyboards.
Keeping things fresh and interesting (or boring and CUV) is what drives models to the top of the sales charts. As designs age out of the public’s collective (un)consciousness, they need to be replaced. And unless you have some Impala Classic soldiering on and breaking all the replacement rules, the standard consumer will expect a new generation of their vehicle every five to seven years. The Laws of Advertising mandate a claim of superiority be made about each new generation upon introduction, like in the delightful vintage Plymouth ad you see above. Something to the tune of, “This new and redesigned Sportslife XLS is best in all things car!”
Sometimes, the OEMs get the new generation of a model just right, and really hit it out of the park compared to the prior version. Which of these generation gaps stands out most to you?
The disproportionately smug owner of this Tesla Model X is having a bad day.
This photo could only be better if there were a leprechaun pouring Skittles on the road, like a corn syrup carpet.
There’s a certain allure to a limited-run special edition that goes beyond “Special Edition” badging and discounted heated seats. Automakers give these ordinary vehicles a new angle (often at the end of the model cycle) to boost sales and margins by a few units and pesos. Down the line, these special vehicles become footnotes over which the ICE can obsess and drool.
And today’s Rare Ride is no exception, if you can handle it. Steel your nerves.
In a developing story, the Stuttgart prosecutors’ office has launched an investigation into employees of Daimler, parent company and manufacturer of Mercedes-Benz BlueTEC engines. At issue is the (lately) very common Germanic malady of diesel infidelity.